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My life in Morris

Trenannick Farm Cottages loves Boscastle Border Morris - our lives are now in tatters! Join in the fun during your stay in North Cornwall

MY LIFE IN MORRIS – Giving it some stick

It may come as a surprise to learn that I belong to a colourful side of Morris dancers with Boscastle Border Morris.  This year I am deputy squire aka ‘Squirrel’ to the team and this added challenge requires me to speak a bit of Cornish!

Boscastle Border Morris or BBM for short, was born in October 2022.  We really are a fun and friendly (and probably a bit nutty) tribe of dancers and musicians who rehearse all winter on Wednesday nights so that we can entertain folk at local hostelries in the region.

My Morris family are best described as “the antidote to life’s travails and stresses”.

It’s impossible to carry a frown in their convivial company and it’s easy to smile dressed in our glorious tatters and sporting a bowler hat!

The melodic tunes we dance to is therapy although a few ear-worms persist after practice sessions, believe me.  And of course, it also involves vigorous exercise!  Since Morris dancing is good for the soul and the body, perhaps our health service ought to prescribe it for positive well-being … now there’s a thought …

Many years ago, I used to watch the Morris dancing at various fetes and local events and couldn’t help but notice how much fun they had.  The camaraderie, the spectacle and the music made me smile and tap my feet.  So, you can imagine my glee when I spotted a Facebook post seeking members for Boscastle Border Morris, a brand-new side for like-minded people.

We have already amassed a broad repertoire of traditional border Morris dances and some contemporary dances that have been created by our very talented foreman Lara Pollard-Jones.

There are different genres of Morris, and we belong to Border Morris.  For clarity these are the six main styles:

  • Cotswold Morris: Danced in sets, usually of 6 or 8 dancers, with a combination of figures and a repeated chorus
  • North West Morris: More military and professional in style
  • Border Morris: Vigorous and looser compared to others
  • Longsword dancing: Originates from Yorkshire and South Durham
  • Rapper Sword: Danced with short swords

Pictured here with Tywardreath Morris on a joint dance out in Bodmin, and showing the very different costumes between Cotswold and Border Morris sides

My Most Memorable Morris Dances

Our Wedding Day

Last Christmas we got hitched (at last)!  Our wedding day was made extra special with my Morris family who provided a magnificent guard of honour in Bude.

Afterwards in Boscastle, we watched BBM dance and they also performed a new dance ‘Lovers Green’ created especially in celebration of our marriage!  Our first dance as Mr and Mrs Green was a ‘Tinners’ Rabbit’ joined with members of our families.

A truly memorable day!

 

Pudsey Day of Morris

We regularly team up with other Morris sides to dance out at venues and it’s inspirational to watch different dance styles.  One memorable event held at Tavistock last November where 200 Morris dancers joined together for a Pudsey Day of Morris where a whopping £9000 was raised for Children in Need.

What a day!  Hopefully, we’ll be invited to help raise money again this year.

National Trust Pentire Wassail

Our wassail was to help ensure a good crop of apples in their orchard and naturally plenty of resulting cider! We had a jolly good sing in the orchard and afterward in doors.  The event was well attended by the public and it was terrific to dance with so many of the audience participating.

It’s the simple things that often make us smile don’t you agree?

Boscastle Shanty Festival

A huge line up of entertainment held annually at The Cobweb that helps to raise funds for local and national charities.  What a terrific musical event with our musicians on stage and us performing in a tight space crammed with people.  What a buzz!

 

We come together or ‘Ow Tevi’ in Cornish, usually every Wednesday locally.  There are dozens of pubs and venues that we’ve performed at and we’re always warmly welcomed by our hosts and the public.  Our aims are simple: to entertain you and to raise money for charity.  This year we welcome ‘Billy the Squid’ who is there to accept donations at our Morris dance outs.

We’ve also hosted a practice dance out night at Trenannick Farm Cottages with some surprise guests – our alpacas!



 

I’m often asked about a few things about Morris dance  – here goes

Our Tatters

We have hand-made our traditional rag coats using around 1000 small strips of cotton fabric. Many hours of work believe me.

These coats are known as tatters.  The colours we chose reflect the colours of Boscastle.  The blue for the sea and sky, yellow and orange for the wild flora, green for the hills hugging the harbour, and silver for the slate and shimmering seal skin (more on the seal later).   In addition, we sport a deep blue star printed yoke to represent the unspoilt dark skies here.

Our hats are unique to the wearer and as you can see, we individually wear some wonderful creations.  If you look closely, this year my hat is decorated with mini creatures including a bouncy alpaca (why not) and a cheeky squirrel.

Our bells are again a tradition as a celebration of life and to bring good luck although to quote Sir Terry Pratchett “bells are worn to prevent Morris dancers from creeping up on people” – true enough! Seriously though, the ribbons allow us to sport the Cornish tartan together with our chosen costume colours.

Our Green Man is also a talented musician, a cross between the jolly green giant and the hulk!  He represents the coming of summer dressed in his green tatters and his hat stuffed with foliage.

Our Beastie.  Now it’s also traditional for Morris dance sides to have a beastie to bring good fortune.  BBM has a selkie named “Morsterren” or Sea Star.  This mythical creature can shape-shift between seal and human.

Legend has it that she was blown ashore into Cornish Waters and loved it here so much that she decided to stay and to protect our harbour and village during storms.

As a tribute to Morsterren our colourful tatters include silver to represent her seal skin.

Our Sponsor is Hayward Farm Cider based locally near Bodmin.  They also host a variety of fantastic music events – see their website www.haywardfarmcider.co.uk  As an homage to our esteemed sponsor, we have our own unique dance to celebrate this fine drink aptly called ‘Cider Stomp’.

Forthcoming Dance Outs

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Morris dance life.  Click the link to our website  –

www.boscastlebordermorris.uk and www.facebook.com/groups/boscastlebordermorris

to find out more and join our dance outs this year. I promise it’ll be fun – see you there! Jules

 

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